Poetry is what we live for!

Nostalgia is a sweet ailment. Only twisted minds savour the bitter-sweet taste of past. But, sometimes, it is all you can do. Especially when you get to stay in your home town again.

Staying in this idyllic city of Nangal made my childhood an extraordinary experience.

Naya Nangal, Punjab
The Satluj river, Nangal

But, I didn’t know it at that time. I was busy daydreaming about the “perfect adult life”. Yet, I still had moments of absolute calm and happiness:
an adventurous hike to the school, cycling around the beautiful town lined by the gigantic river Satluj, the hospital nearby where we played hide and seek (maternity ward is the safest spot!), a passionate Biology teacher who took us to multiple bio-hikes (he could tell the name of each and every plant in the town and beyond), and a teacher of English literature who didn’t just read poetry.

He savoured every word of a poem, created a big spectacle out of it, and made me fall in love with English literature every single day.

I remember a poem that he narrated to us. It felt like the poem was the only thing that mattered at that moment.

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes:

“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.   
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.   
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,   
And the highwayman came riding— …”

“The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor”, has stayed with me for longer than I imagined. But the best was yet to come;

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,   
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

I can still hear the suppressed giggling of my classmates when he decided to dramatically blow a kiss.

I guess that’s what nostalgia is all about! Many of my classmates have gone ahead, and became engineers and doctors.

Yet I still find myself there, sitting in that class over and over again : awestruck, giggling, trying to memorise every single word in the “Oxford dictionary”, and falling in love with poetry as we know it.

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Model School, Nangal

The epic movie “Dead poet’s society” is as close as it can get, to the kind of passionate childhood we got to live. Sir Prasad to me, is an epitome of the art of teaching, and in his own ways, he clearly conveyed the “secret” to those of us who were listening:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute.

We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.

And the human race is filled with passion.

And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

“To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’

Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?”

The question is still relevant,.“What will your verse be?”

 🙂

 

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.

Rumi: Then I Left Everyone, Myself As Well!

“Doing as others told me, I was blind.
Coming when others called me, I was lost.
Then I left everyone, myself as well…
Then I found everyone, myself as well.”

~ Rumi

 

Osho Meditation Center Dharamshala
A moment of unbridled laughter near Osho Nisarga Meditation Center, Dharamshala, India

Khalil Gibran: A poet par excellence

It was a usual day in the library. For the first time in life, I finally knew what I yearned for: knowledge & a place where there’s plenty of it: university’s library.

A.C. Joshi Library, located in the Panjab university, is not for the casual students. It is a “respite for soul” place for the curious ones. The ones who want to know it all. The ones with insatiable hunger for more!

Though I was a post-graduate student at that time, the name “Khalil Gibran” (or Kahlil Gibran) didn’t ring any bells. But the word “Lebanese” poet aroused some curiosity, and that’s how I opened the first page.

khalil gibran

And then I couldn’t put it down for a moment – read it while eating, in the class, in the hostel common room, almost everywhere. There it was, one of the most enchantingly romantic works one could read, “The Broken Wings: Khalil Gibran“.

A take on spiritual love, with its purity intact, The Broken Wings is like an intense lyric, the depths of which are unfathomable to a mortal being. Here’s an excerpt from the text:

“Every young man remembers his first love and tries to recapture that strange hour, the memory of which changes his deepest feeling and makes him so happy in spite of all the bitterness of its mystery…

Today, after many years have passed, I’ve nothing left out of that beautiful dream except painful memories flapping like invisible wings around me, filling the depths of my heart with sorrow, and bringing tears to my eyes; and my beloved, beautiful Selma, is dead and nothing is left to commemorate her except my broken heart and tomb surrounded by cypress trees. That tomb and this heart are all that is left to bear witness of Selma.

The silence that guards the tomb does not reveal God’s secret in the obscurity of the coffin, and the rustling of the branches whose roots suck the body’s elements do not tell the mysteries of the grave, by the agonized sighs of my heart announce to the living the drama which love, beauty, and death have performed. “

The tragedy of love is beautifully captured in the masterpiece. But love’s not the only facet of Gibran’s work. Another classic, “The Prophet“, discusses practical answers to spiritual & philosophical aspects of daily life. Matters of marriage, death, talking, children, giving, etc. are touched upon with soft-soothing words, showing his creative genius in the poetic form.

Here’s an excerpt from “On Talking” by Khalil Gibran:

On Talking

“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts;
And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips,
And sound is a diversion and a pastime.
And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.
For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly…

There are those among you who seek the talkative through fear of being alone.
The silence of aloneness reveals to their eyes their naked selves and they would escape… “

The Guest House by Rumi: Sufism

The first glimpse of Sufism

I remember it. My first glimpse of Sufism. An unusual book was lying on the table, with the name “Bulleh Shah” printed on it. The name struck a chord. Just like the name “Rumi” did later on. Bit by bit, poem by poem, the love for his poetry solidified into supreme devotion, and a new gate opened for me – the golden gate of Sufi ecstasy!

So, who is a Sufi ?

Is he the one immersed in deep meditative silence? Or is he the one whirling in a divine ecstasy? Or perhaps the one whose dance has solidified into a deep silence?

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As waves upon my head the circling curl,
So in the sacred dance weave ye and whirl.
Dance then, O heart, a whirling circle be.
Burn this flame - is not the candle he? 
- Rumi

A Sufi can be just anybody: a wanderer, a saint, a beggar, a poet, an ascetic. He can easily fit into any of these categories. Or he can transcended all these mind-imposed categories & move into the realm of nothingness.

“The Guest House” by Rumi is a stroke of genius, an enchanting lyric, a masterpiece that started a life-long addiction to Rumi and his works.

The Guesthouse by Mewlava Jallaludin Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
 Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
 As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
 Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
 who violently sweep your house
 empty of its furniture,
 still treat each guest honorably.
 He may be clearing you out
 for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Note: The image has been sourced from the Internet. No infringement intended. 

Life Runs A Full Circle

 Bits And Pieces,
Of You And Me.

A Loveless Scar Here,
An Innocent Blush There.

Autumn Of A Withering Leaf,
Decayed Now, In Full Bloom Once.

Only Hope, A Warm Casket –
A Wintery Sheet Of Death-Cold Snow.

Reminisces Spring, The Days Gone By,
When Love Was Pure, Promises True.

Life Runs A Full Circle:
Broken And Cherished Fragments,
Of You And Me.

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.

State Of My Heart: It’s Hollow

Hollow is the shape of the planet,
Hollower, the state of my heart.
Shallow, the world slowly walks by,
Shallower, thy friendly smile.

In a bid to avoid “the hollows”,
I took a thousand vows, –
Friend.Lover.Child.Parent.Sister.
Benumbed, as each vow entangles,
Vacant, the state of the heart.

Let’s not hide, you and I,
Behind the veil of an empty Gaze.
Void is the Space that is Matter.
Vacant is the Touch of your Gaze.

When I seek refuge in the mountain,
“Hollow” is the Note it Plays.
“Silence”, the ound that Echoes,
Lost in a forlorn Haze.

Torpid is the Numbness of Mind,
Estranged, the world idly goes by.
Hollow, the shape of the planet,
Nadir be the Truth of my Fate.

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.

Submit To The Nothingness

Ganga Rishikesh India
The Ganages in Rishikesh, India

Sacred silence of majestic mountains,
Gentle murmur of the ageless Ganges,
A gust of untamed wind quietly whispers the timeless secret,

“I am nothing…

A negligible entity in the infinite space,
A tiny bubble of energy destined,
To explode back into the nothingness.

My existence, a cosmic accident,
Never to repeat again.

Purpose of existence, –
Witness the blissful interplay, of nature & its elements,
To submit to its nothingness.”

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.

Nature : A bittersweet interplay of polarities

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A vivid scene of mother nature,
Glimpse of life itself,
A bittersweet interplay of polarities: joy & sorrow.

The gloomy greyish tinge,
Of dark thoughts & malice,
That plague us, make us human.

The pristine whitish hue,
Of peace & hope,
A fair shot at redemption of human soul.

The omnipresent bluish space,
Stage beyond the two polarities,
Peek into the timeless eternity.

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.